New Browning A5 Sweet Sixteen, Phase Two
As cited in the original review, it is hard to call the new Browning A5 Sweet Sixteen inertia autoloader perfect out of the box. However, it does go where no autoloading shotgun has gone before: a sub-six pound 16 gauge.
Although the three supplied Invector-DS choke tubes were not usable for hunting, Browning already has more Invector-DS choke tubes available. The Improved Modified Invector-DS 16 gauge tube (.646 in. exit diameter) yields a .023 inch constriction in the tested A5, a far better option than the supplied IC and Mod chokes for many applications, including hunting wild pheasants.
For those looking for comfortable 16 gauge shells to shoot loads for clays, doves and so forth, Federal has their Game Shok H160 load. This is a one ounce, 1165 fps shell in #6, #7-1/2 and #8 shot. The Fiocchi Game & Target loads (16GT75, etc.) are very similar.
For pheasant hunting, high performance buffered loads are hard to find, but Federal offers two. One I have used for many years, their P165 1-1/4 ounce, 1260 fps load, is available only in #4 and # 6 shot.
Federal's more recent offering is PF163, an 1-1/8 ounce load at a a smoking 1425 fps. Normally, I would look to the more traditional velocity load, but the PF163 is both buffered and available in #5 shot. 1-1/8 ounce of #5 shot nets about 191 pellets, while 1-1/4 ounce of #4 numbers about 169.
If you want a strong wild pheasant load, the Federal PF163 1-1/8 ounce buffered load with #5 shot, is currently the best on the market. When paired with the Invector-DS Improved Modified tube, it will satisfy most wild pheasant aficionados.
In a Browning shotgun, the actual bore difference between 20 gauge and 16 gauge is smaller than usual. Browning uses backbored 20 gauge Invector Plus and Invector-DS barrels, yielding a bore of .625 inch. The A5 Sweet Sixteen has a bore diameter of .669 inch. The 20 gauge is just .044 inch (about the constriction of a full choke) away from being a 16 gauge.
What is noticeable with the A5 is the easier shell-handling the 16 gauge provides. The speed-loading execution of the Sweet Sixteen is superb. The A5 Sweet Sixteen itself is remarkable in that it is the lightest Browning repeating shotgun ever made, shaving more than 1/2 pound from the 6-1/2 pound Browning Silver 20 gauge.
The A5 Sweet Sixteen trigger remains too heavy, breaking at a heavier weight than the entire gun. The trigger assembly will go to Jim at Cole Gunsmithing for a more appropriate 4.0 to 4.5 pound trigger pull. As time is growing short, this improvement may have to wait until after the opening of pheasant season.
Copyright 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.